Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science

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Minimum Admissions Requirements

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or a related field as judged by the School’s Graduate Committee. Degrees must have been earned at a regionally accredited university.
  • For students without a master’s degree in a related field: A minimum of a 3.2 average (on a 4.0 scale) on all undergraduate upper division, degree specific course work.
  • For students with a master’s degree in a related field: A minimum of a 3.0 average (on a 4.0 scale) on all undergraduate upper division, degree specific course work, and a minimum GPA of 3.3 (on a 4.0 scale) in the graduate work.
  • For applicants whose native language is not English, English proficiency exam scores of at least 550 (paper-based) or 80 (internet-based) on the TOEFL, 6.5 on the IELTS or 110 on the Duolingo. English proficiency exam exemptions are based on the country in which the applicant completed their undergraduate degree, not on nationality or language of instruction. See the list of exempt countries here: https://gradschool.fiu.edu/toefl-exempt-countries/.
  • GRE is currently being waived through fall 2023 term.

 

Required Documents

For all applicants:

  • Online graduate application/application fee.
  • Beginning January 15th, 2023, official courses-by-course evaluation is required from a NACES member credential evaluation service for all international post-secondary (college or university) course work. The evaluation must come directly from the evaluation service to FIU certified as an official document. FIU only accepts secure transcripts of post-secondary school records and these must be received via official channels of mail or authorized electronic transmission. All credentials and documents submitted to the Office of Admissions become the property of FIU. FIU will not return original documents to the applicant or forward to other institutions. You are not required to use the agencies below; you can use any of your choice that is a NACES member credentialed.
    • Josef Silny & Associates
      7101 SW 102 Avenue
      Miami, FL 33171
      (t) 305.273.1616
      www.silny.com | info@jsilny.com
    • World Education Services
      PO Box 745
      New York, NY 10113-0745
      (t) 212.966.6311
      www.wes.org | info@wes.org
    • Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
      PO Box 514070
      Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470
      (t) 414.289.3400
      www.ece.org
  • If applicable, Official TOEFL and Duolingo scores must be reported by the testing agency.
    • The ETS school code for the TOEFL exam is 5206.
    • IELTS can be verified directly by admissions. Plesae be sure to upload or email a copy of your official IELTS score card.
  • GRE is currently being waived through fall 2023 admission cycles.
  • If admitted, All foreign educated students are required to provide proof of Degree / Diploma. This can be submitted upon arrival at FIU.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume

 

For international students, the following documents are also required:

 

Step One: Apply Online

All applications and associated fees, with the exception of those for combined BS/MS programs, are submitted online at https://admissions.fiu.edu/how-to-apply/graduate-applicant/applications/index.html.

Through the website, applicants will have the opportunity to upload supporting documents, such as a statement of purpose, resume, residency documents for tuition purposes, immigration documents, and the like. They can also provide contact information for recommenders who are then prompted to submit the letters of recommendation through the online portal.

Once submitted, Graduate Admissions will promptly acknowledge receipt of the application via email and will provide a Panther ID as well as further instructions on how to access the MyFIU portal. On MyFIU, students can view the status of their application, including any missing documents. Missing documents are listed under the “To Do List” on the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Once the applicant has been issued a Panther ID, they should include the Panther ID in all communications to the unit representatives, Graduate Admissions, International Student and Scholar Services, and Student Health services.

Step Two: Mail Official Documents

Mailing address for regular U.S. mail:

Office of Admissions
Florida International University
P.O. Box 659004 Miami, FL 33265-9004

Mailing address for couriers (typically used for delivering documents from outside the United States):

Office of Admissions
11200 SW 8th St
BT 201
Miami, FL 33199

FIU requires official documents, even for the initial review of the applications. Required official documents include transcripts, course by course evaluation, translations, and test scores (if applicable).

Transcripts must be official. Foreign students must provide a course by course evaluation from a NACES approved agency.

Official test scores must be reported to the University by the testing agency. The University’s ETS code is 5206. IELTS scores may be verified directly by the admissions officer if the applicant provides FIU with a copy of the score report.

Please note that applications are not referred to the unit for review until required documents have been received and the application evaluation can be completed. Uploaded copies of any of these documents are considered unofficial and will not be used in evaluating the application.

Once admitted, international students will also be required to show an official proof of degree, typically a diploma, but can do so upon their arrival to FIU.

For any and all questions regarding admission required documents you must contact the office of international admissions directly at gradadm@fiu.edu.

This program admits for the fall, spring, and summer terms.

Fall Spring Summer
All Applicants February 15th August 1st December 1st

Assistantships

Further information on assistantship policies and benefits can be found at https://gradschool.fiu.edu/students/funding/assistantships/

Teaching Assistantships

All PhD applicants are considered for Teaching Assistantships upon application. Only the most qualified applicants will be awarded assistantship funding. Applicants who are awarded a Teaching Assistantship are guaranteed funding for one year, assuming satisfactory performance which is further outlined in section 3.3 of the Graduate Program Booklet. After one year, students are expected to establish a major advisor who will support the student as a Research Assistant for the remainder of the student’s program. Teaching Assistants assist in both teaching and research duties. The exact assignment varies and depends on the student’s skill, progress toward the degree, and performance. The Teaching Assistantship package includes a competitive stipend, tuition waiver, and subsidized health insurance. 

Research Assistantships 

Many faculty members have sponsored research projects from various funding agencies that provide Research Assistantships. These Research Assistantships are highly competitive and require specific background and skills. They are awarded by the individual faculty members associated with the sponsored research projects. Students should contact the faculty members directly to apply for these assistantships. The Research Assistantship package includes a competitive stipend, tuition waiver, and subsidized health insurance. 

Fellowships

The University Graduate School and the School of Computing and Information Sciences are proud to offer competitive fellowships to highly-qualified applicants. Students who wish to be considered for a Fellowship should apply early, preferably by January 15th.

University Graduate School

Information on fellowship offered through the University Graduate School is available at https://gradschool.fiu.edu/students/funding/fellowships/.

School of Computing and Information Sciences

The Director’s Fellowship was established to recognize applicants for their outstanding academic achievements, superlative letters of recommendation, and excellent alignment with their prospective major advisor. Applicants are nominated by the major advisor.

The Director’s Fellowship entails the following for three (3) years:

  • Tuition Waiver: Maximum allowable tuition waiver for 24 credits per annum
  • Combined Salary/Stipend of $30,000 per annum
  • Subsidized health insurance per annum
  • Release from teaching responsibilities normally associated with departmental support
  • A total of two $1500 travel awards, which may be used over the lifetime of the fellowship. The requests for these awards must be accompanied by a clear justification for the travel

Degree Requirements

The student needs to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. The student must complete 3 required courses (9 credits) with a grade of B or higher in each, and at least 7 elective courses (21 credits). In addition, the student must earn at least 15 dissertation credits. A total of 75 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required.
  2. The student must pass the Qualifying Exam, which is an oral examination of the student’s knowledge in a broad research area. A written exam may be required in addition to the standard oral exam based on the student’s performance in the core subjects.
  3. The student must pass the Proposal Defense, which is an oral examination of his or her dissertation proposal.
  4. The student must write a dissertation on his or her research and successfully defend it orally in the Dissertation Defense.

 

Students must comply with all University Graduate School requirements regarding enrollments and deadlines. More information is available at https://gradschool.fiu.edu/

Ph.D. Credit Requirements

Required Courses: 9 credits

All students must complete the following three courses and receive a grade of B or higher in each. If a student receives a grade of B- or lower, he or she will be required to retake the course.

  • COP 5614 Operating Systems, or TCN 5445 Telecommunication Network Programming
  • COT 5310 Theory of Computation, or TCN 5421 Theory of Networked Computation
  • COT 6405 Analysis of Algorithms

 

Only students with a focus in telecommunications and networking can opt for the TCN-based core curriculum with the approval of their major advisors.

Elective Courses: 21 credits

The student must pass at least seven elective courses (21 credits), for a total of 30 semester credit hours of coursework including the core classes. Elective courses are listed in Section 7.1 of the Graduate Program Booklet. Other courses may be used as electives; however, they must be approved by the Graduate Program Director. Students interested in taking courses not listed in either Section 7.1 or Section 7.2 should consult their major advisor, the Graduate Program Director, and the Graduate Program Advisor on whether the courses can be considered as electives. Please note that independent studies and co-op courses, such as those listed in Section 7.3, do not count toward the 30 credit hours of core and elective coursework. Students may take these courses to accumulate the 75 credits required beyond the bachelor’s.

Dissertation Research: 15 credits

Students must earn at least 15 dissertation research credit hours. Note that students graduating in or before Spring 2019 are still required to take 24 dissertation research credit hours, according to the previous guideline.

Total Credit Hours: 75 credits

The minimum required credits for core courses (9 credits), elective courses (21 credits), and dissertation research (15 credits) are 45 credits. Students are required to take at least 75 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. The additional credits (30 credits) may be fulfilled by Graduate Research and other graduate-level courses, including internships.

Eligibility

  1. The student must be in good academic standing (3.0) and have active status, i.e. must be enrolled for at least 3 graduate credit hours
  2. The student may take the Qualifying Exam as early as in the semester in which he or she is completing at least 15 credits of coursework, which must include the 3 core courses, but no later than the first 2 years in the Ph.D. program. (Note that Independent Studies and Graduate Research do not count toward the 15 credits of coursework.) Students who fail to take or cannot pass the Qualifying Exam with the first 2 years of their PhD program must seek an extension from the Graduate Program Director. A student failing to pass the Qualifying Exam in two attempts during the designated period will be dismissed from the program. Qualifying Exams are held during the fall and spring semesters only.
  3. The student must earn B or higher in the three core courses.
  4. The student must have an approved D1 form on file with UGS. Students who wish to take the exam without an approved D1 form must seek permission from the Graduate Program Director, under the condition that the D1 form is submitted in the same semester that the Qualifying Exam is taken.
  5. The student must have the approval from his or her major advisor to take the Qualifying Exam in a given subject area.

 

The Qualifying Exam consists of an oral examination in a subject area. However, students with a core-course GPA lower than 3.4 must take a written examination in addition to the oral examination. The subject or subjects of the written examination will be determined by the Graduate Committee. The written examination will be waived for students with a core-course GPA of 3.4 or higher.

If the student is taking or retaking the core courses in the same semester as the Qualifying Exam, the student may only take the oral examination with approval from the GPD. If the resulting core-course GPA is lower than 3.4 when the grades are posted, an additional written examination will be required.

Procedure

  • A student planning to take the qualifying exam must declare his or her intention to take the exam to the Graduate Program Advisor within the first two weeks of the semester in which the exam is expected to be taken. The PhD Qualifying Exam, Declaration of Intent form must be submitted to the Graduate Program Advisor within this timeframe. The Graduate Program Advisor will check whether the student is eligible to take the exam (see previous section for criteria).
  • The student’s Major Advisor must agree that the student is ready to take the exam and confirm the subject area of the student’s exam by signing the student’s Declaration of Intent form.
  • An Exam Committee that consists of three faculty members (including the student’s major advisor) will be formed based on the student’s D1 Form. The student and the Exam Committee members will be notified via email.
  • The student and Exam Committee will be responsible for scheduling the exam, typically held during the last two weeks of the same semester. The student and Exam Committee must notify the Graduate Program Director, Graduate Program Advisor, and Program Specialist of the agreed-upon date and time of the oral exam as well as the proposed reading list (below) via the Announcement of Oral Exam form (submit to the Graduate Program Advisor approximately 12 weeks prior to the exam).
  • The Exam Committee members for the oral exam will determine the reading list of papers. The list should include 5 classic papers in the subject area as well as 2-3 papers specific to the student’s research area. The Exam Committee will provide the list to the student approximately 12 weeks before the scheduled oral exam.
  • The student will write an area paper for the qualifying exam. The area paper should include a survey of a research topic and initial original research. The paper should be of sufficient quality to indicate that the student has the ability to conduct original research and make an acceptable written presentation of the results. If the student has submitted or published a paper in the subject area, the paper may qualify as an area paper with approval from the Major Advisor.
  • The oral exam is typically an hour and a half in length. The exam begins with the student presenting the area paper, followed by an intensive questioning by the Exam Committee. Questions from the Exam Committee members may include questions about the area paper, as well as questions about the papers in the reading list. These questions are intended to test the student’s understanding of these papers and the subject area both in breadth and depth.
  • If the student needs to take written exam in addition to the oral exam (see previous section for criteria), the Graduate Committee will arrange for the exam with the student i.e. determine which subjects are to be tested and assign an Exam Committee to create and evaluate the written exams. Written exams will be proctored by the Graduate Program Advisor and held prior to the oral exam. Students will be notified of the date and time via email.
  • If necessary, the written exam can run up to two hours per subject area. The exam consists of questions and problems for the student to solve, relating to the core subjects of computer science. The specific subject or subjects of the written examination for the student will be determined by the Graduate Committee.
  • The Exam Committee must communicate the results of the Qualifying Exam to the student, the Graduate Program Director, the Graduate Program Advisor, and the Graduate Program Specialist, by the end of the semester using the Result of Exam form. The Exam Committee will submit one composite Result of Exam form. The Exam Committee will also submit the assessment rubric for institutional research purposes. Each individual committee member will fill out the assessment rubric. Both forms should be returned to the Graduate Program Advisor.

 

Declaration of Intent- Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Form

Announcement of Oral Exam Form

Result of Exam Form

Criteria

The student needs to have a solid grasp of the core subjects of computer science, as evident either by earning a core-course GPA of 3.4 or higher or by the result of the written exam.

For the oral portion of the Qualifying Exam, the Exam Committee will be looking for evidence of both general and specific research skills.

The general research skills include the ability to identify a problem, evidence of scholarship, critical analysis, and communication skills (both in terms of writing and spoken language).

The specific research skills include the student’s ability and preparedness for undertaking research in her or her chosen subject area. The Exam Committee will consider the following questions in making the decision:

  • Did the student demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in his or her chosen subfield?
  • Did the student demonstrate adequate technical depth?

 

All committee members must be satisfied that the student has met these criteria in order to pass the examination. Apart from the presentation and discussion during the examination itself, the Exam Committee may use other means at its disposal to determine the outcome of the examination, including a review of the student’s full academic record.

The Exam Committee may pass the student (perhaps with a stipulation of further requirements), fail the student, or fail to come to a conclusion.

  • If the student passes the exam, congratulation for achieving the important milestone.
  • If the student passes the exam with a stipulation of further requirements, typical stipulations for further requirements may include completion of additional coursework or passing a further written examination by a certain date. The student must meet the requirement in the given time, or the student is considered to have failed the exam.
  • In the case of an inconclusive outcome from the Exam Committee, a second examination will be scheduled in the following eligible semester. The second examination may consist of only the parts that the Exam Committee considers the student needs to improve. The result of the second examination must be conclusive.
  • Students who fail to take or cannot pass the Qualifying Exam with the first 2 years of their Ph.D. program must seek an extension from the Graduate Program Director. A student failing to pass the Qualifying Exam in two attempts during the designated period will be dismissed from the program.

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee is established via the submission of the D1 form to the University Graduate School. Visit https://gradschool.fiu.edu/students for more information, including the UGS deadlines. The Dean’s Office at the College of Engineering and Computing has an internal deadline of one week prior to the University Graduate School deadline for all forms requiring the Dean’s approval. Please plan accordingly.

SCIS requires that committees consist of a minimum of five members: at least four faculty members from the field of computer science (three of which must be Graduate Faculty members from FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences) and at least one FIU Graduate Faculty member external to SCIS (i.e. from another discipline but within FIU). The Dissertation Advisor (i.e., the student’s Major Advisor) is the Chairperson of the Dissertation Committee and must be a Graduate Faculty member in the College of Engineering and Computing with Dissertation Advisor Status.

Proposal Defense

The purpose of the proposal is to convince the Committee that the chosen dissertation topic and the student’s approach will have a reasonable chance of success. SCIS wants to minimize the chance that a dissertation will be turned down when almost complete. In particular, the proposal should:

  1. Explain the basic idea of the thesis topic
  2. Argue why that topic is important
  3. State what kind of results are expected
  4. Make plausible that these results are sufficient for a Ph.D. thesis and that they are obtainable within the given time frame with the available resources
  5. Demonstrate the student’s academic qualifications for doing the proposed work by including a comprehensive survey of the area of specialization.

 

After the student has entered candidacy, the student will write a dissertation proposal. The Major Advisor will conduct an initial review of the proposal and will give the proposal to the student’s Dissertation Committee for further review. If approved, the student and the Dissertation Committee will schedule an oral presentation of the proposal in the form of a public lecture. The student and the Major Advisor should coordinate the proposal defense with the Graduate Program Specialist. The student needs to provide an abstract, bio, and photo for the announcement of the public lecture. On the day of the exam, the Graduate Program Specialist will provide the committee members with the assessment forms.

Based on the reviews of the written proposal and on the student’s oral presentation, the Dissertation Committee will make a final decision. Upon acceptance of the proposal, the D-3 Form will be completed and signed, to indicate that the proposal has been approved.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation must describe a piece of original and high-quality work and must describe it well. It is on this basis that the School of Computing and Information Sciences certifies the qualification of the new Ph.D. Furthermore, it is the most important basis on which the rest of the scientific community judges the initial achievement and potential of that individual.

The final public oral defense is a public presentation describing the contributions of the dissertation. The student, Major Advisor, and Dissertation Committee members should schedule the dissertation defense in accordance with the University Graduate School’s guidelines https://gradschool.fiu.edu/calendar-deadlines/. The student and Major Advisor should work with the Program Specialist to coordinate the dissertation defense.

The Dissertation Committee makes the final decision whether the student passes or fails based on the content and form of the dissertation, as well as the outcome of the dissertation defense.

In accordance with the University Graduate School, at the doctoral level, all requirements, including the successful defense of a dissertation, must be completed within nine years of first enrollment in the doctoral program.

Graduate assistants in the doctoral program are expected to finish the requirements for the Ph.D. within five years.

The result of the qualifying exam is valid for five years unless the Graduate Committee deems it appropriate to extend the time limit up to the period the student is allowed to be a graduate student by the university.

The following table shows a five-year timeline for a typical fresh PhD student (without taking any previous graduate courses). Individual experience may differ:

Students are responsible for complying with the University Graduate School’s policies and deadlines, found here https://gradschool.fiu.edu/students/. Additionally, the Dean’s Office has an internal deadline of 1 week prior to the UGS deadline for all forms requiring the Dean’s approval. Students should plan accordingly